If you have ever sat in traffic you know that it’s a big waste of time, money and resources.
I mean, you see people doing all sorts of things while bored and stuck in traffic.
Texting, their make-up, singing, or even inventing new companies like Tesla’s CEO Elon Musk. He had the idea for The Boring Company while he was trapped in traffic.
Traffic is getting worse, especially in large cities.
Los Angeles has the worst traffic in the world, according to INRIX, a company that analyses and ranks the impact of traffic. Los Angeles drivers spent, on average, 102 peak hours in congestion in 2017.
According to the report, traffic costs US drivers over US$305 billion in 2017. A US$10 billion increase from 2016.
Moscow follows in the rankings, with New York ranked third and Sao Paulo in fourth.
And, with population growing, it will only get worse.
By 2050 there are expected to be 9.7 billion people in the world, with 70% living in cities.
If you have ever been to Sao Paulo in Brazil, you know that bad traffic is a huge problem. It takes you forever to get anywhere.
Arriving to Sao Paulo by plane you get a bit of a sense of how big it is. It just extends for kilometres and kilometres. The city has over 12 million inhabitants, 20 million if you count the wider metropolitan area.
Traffic is so bad there that the city keeps a ranking on its top 10 worst traffic jams.
According to Terra, the worst one was 293 km in backups. To give you an idea, that’s almost the same distance between Canberra and Sydney.
That’s why Sao Paulo is experimenting with ways to avoid traffic, like on-demand helicopters. Last year, French airplane maker Airbus [EPA:AIR] launched Voom in Sao Paulo, an affordable helicopter taxi service.
The service has been such a success that they have been increasing their routes in Sao Paulo, and have also started the service in Mexico City and are looking to expand to other cities with high traffic.
Uber has also been testing to offer a similar service in Sao Paulo, Ubercopter. The process is pretty much the same as hailing an Uber.
These companies don’t own any helicopters. Instead, they team up with accredited helicopter taxi companies.
But it might not be just helicopters you’ll see in the sky in the near future.
In fact, several companies are working to solve the traffic problem by developing flying cars.
Just last Thursday, Kitty Hawk — a company funded by Google’s founder Larry Page — started offering test flights in their Flyer. They are offering test flights to prospective buyers. All you need to do is apply through their website.
If you are curious, this is what it looks like:
[Click to enlarge]
The vehicle is completely electrical and can fly up to 20 minutes, or 20 miles. It can only fit one person though.
The company is taking pre-orders, although they have been quite secretive about how much one of these will set you back.
Voom’s Airbus, the on-demand helicopter company in Sao Paulo, is also working on a flying car called Vahana.
Back in February, the company announced Vahana had completed a test flight successfully and they are looking to bring the flying car into market by 2020.
Both Vahana and Flyer have vertical take-off and landing (VTOL). That is, they can take off and land vertically in small areas without the need of a runway.
And there is also the Dutch company PAL-V, who earlier this year showcased the PAL-V Liberty in the Geneva Motor show. As you can see below, it is a mix between a car and a helicopter. That is, you can either drive it or fly it…but you also need a driver’s license and a pilot license.
[Click to enlarge]
PAL-V has also begun pre-sales, but just a warning, they are not cheap. One of these will set you back between 299,000 euros (about $462,000) and 400,000 euros (about $618,000).
These are just a few of the companies working on flying cars.
We are nowhere near a future like the movie The Fifth Element or The Jetsons.
But we are getting closer.
From the Mailbag
Here is what one reader recently asked:
‘Why have you stopped promoting the company behind the everything app? Has there been a change of opinion?’
Thank you for writing in. There hasn’t been a change of opinion on the everything app. In fact, it has been quite the opposite. The stock that Harje recommended in his service, Wealth Eruption, has taken off in price. That represents profits for readers who subscribed and bought in at his recommended buy-up-to price.
Unfortunately, this means that we can’t promote it to any new readers. It wouldn’t be fair to sell them a subscription based on this recommendation, which is now too high in price for them to buy in!
As always, it’s great to hear from you. Remember, you can always reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
All the best,
Editor, Markets & Money